Abia eases lockdown, reopens markets, limits burials

Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu
Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, at the Government House Umuahia

THE Abia State Government has put in place a graduated relaxation of the one month old lockdown in the state as it reopens markets, lifts partial ban on burials and the return of workers, while all schools and borders shall remain closed.

In a statement, “Update on the Relaxation of Lockdown in Abia,” in Umuahia, Friday,  the Secretary to Abia State Government (SSG), Chris Ezem, stated that markets would open for three days (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9am to 3pm) weekly, and civil servants would also work only for three days, weekly.

The statement, which noted that the wearing of face masks was compulsory, as well all other COVID-19 protocols like washing of hands, the use of sanitizers and physical distancing.

He disclosed the constitution of a 17-man enforcement team by the market leaders to ensure the enforcement of the precautionary measures, with powers to seal up any shop whose owner flouts the orders, while other offenders can be prosecuted at a Mobile Court. 

In the meantime, burials would hold on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays of the first and third week of every month, and attendance would be limited to only 30 persons while 10 persons would be in attendance at private residences.

For any burial to hold, the church leader or traditional ruler would apply and obtain a permit from the Secretary to State Government, through the Council Chairman of the Local Government Area.

Noting that not more than 20 persons will be at any ministry, departments or agencies, the statement stated that only civil servant on Grade Level 13 and above, along with their immediate subordinates would resume work on May 11, from 8am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and close at 3pm. 

Other reviewed measures include the directive that commercial tricycle operators and intra-state transporters would operate from 8am to 4pm daily. 

Lifting the ban on religious activities, the SSG explained that Muslims will hold their public Friday prayers, while Sabbatarians will meet on Saturdays and Sundays for other Christian denominations, with activities not exceeding 2 p.m on the stated days, while congregation must not exceed 50 persons.

Government insisted that eateries and restaurants must operate only on a take-away basis and close by 7pm daily, and all workers and customers at such places must wear face masks, provide hand sanitizers or soap and running water for customers at the entry points.

The closure of borders is still was not lifted except for vehicles transporting essential items such as food, drugs.


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